I have noticed mom recalls her childhood memories more fluently. Yet there are little inconsistencies, particularly regarding the time, so these memories cannot be wholly accurate. After all, our memories are what we decide they are. We remember what is important to us, and discard the unimportant bits. We link memories because they mean something special to us.
Mom remembered we had spoken about her childhood and wanted to tell me more.
So I was living with my uncle, and I went to school for 2 years in Penang and 2 years in Butterworth. At the Convent in Butterworth, I did very well.
My parents moved from Pahang to Kuala Lumpur, and moved into a house on Campbell Road. So I went to live with them. No, it wasn’t a shop. It was the end of a house, and there was a sort of extension. And we lived there.
At first I went to the Convent in Sentul. Within one week of going there, Reverend Mother saw me and asked me where I lived. She said it would be better for me to go to Convent Bukit Nanas. I said but there are no more vacancies. Reverend Mother said, I will bring you there.
So Reverend Mother brought me there and we went to the classrooms. Reverend Mother found a class for me and told me to sit in an empty seat in the middle. I don’t know if Reverend Mother told the teacher about me. When the teacher came, she said, “Why is there someone else here, and why have you all changed your seats?” Every girl pointed at me.
So I told her, Reverend Mother put me here. She said, Who is Reverend Mother? So I explained it to her. I was in Form 1 in Bukit Nanas.
At Campbell road, my mother was hanging her laundry when she was bothered by a lot of ducks. She told me to chase the ducks away. You know what, we got more than 10 duck eggs! My mother put them in salt water and we had delicious salted eggs. I was in sixth form then.
I did very well in school and got into university. I had to take 2 buses to university and walk quite a bit. My elder brother told me it was so troublesome I better not go to university.
There was a girl from Chow Kit Road in my class who offered me a ride to university everyday. She would pick me up from Odeon Cinema which was a short distance away from my house at Campbell road. So I got a lift from her.
She failed her first year. But I did very well, and got lodgings at university because of my good results.
My parents lived in Campbell Road a long time. I don’t remember how long. No, I don’t think you have ever been there.
From mom’s account, the value of education is undeniable. As mentioned in the earlier post, she left her parents to live with a stranger in Kuala Lipis in order to go to school. She must have been about 7 years old at the time. When the stranger died, she moved to Penang to live with an uncle and continue schooling. Later she moved to Butterworth with the uncle’s job transfer.
She is finally reunited with her family in Kuala Lumpur, which is a large city with many schools and the only university.
Mom emphasised education to us kids. Saying we were studying was enough to get us out of chores. Dad preferred us to be street-smart. He wanted us out of the house, to speak many languages, to have many friends.
Writing this post helped me understand how mom came to value education. Even today, she battles dementia with a studious approach. She copies out passages in her notebook. She watches the news and not comedies. She makes notes about telephone calls.
1. Sentul was a rather unsavoury area. It might still be. Convent Bukit Nanas or CBN in short, was a famous girls school. It still is. Many CBN alumni go on to accomplish great things. The implication about Reverend Mother’s actions in getting mom transferred was that she recognised mom deserved to be CBN.
2. 13 year olds attend Form 1. Sixth formers are 18 to 19 year-olds.